Dandelions are the bane of existence to many a suburban yard, they sprout up almost overnight and can easily take over if you are not diligent. Of course the fact that it is so fun to blow the seeds of the dandelion into the wind doesn't help, especially if you live in a neighborhood full of kids - or adults like me who are just big kids in disguise!
My back yard is big and full of all sorts of things including trees, shrubs, grass, flowers, clover, rocks and of course, dandelions. Fortunately for me, no one seems to mind that we don’t have a pristine back yard. The dogs and kids have run wild there for 17 years so it has served us well!
The past few seasons have been interesting for my family as I have slowly introduced them to more magical fare in the kitchen. I am blessed with a loving family who just go with the flow, so when I toss dandelion greens into a salad or send the kids out to fill a bucket full of dandelion flowers so I can make Dandelion wine, no one even blinks. It makes me smile just to write that because there really isn't much I could say (or do) that would surprise my family.
This week I chose to write about the Dandelion and hope that the information here will cause people to think a little more kindly of this versatile little plant.
Many people don’t realize that the dandelion is edible. It has a high concentration of Vitamins A, B, C and D and is also high in Iron, Calcium and Potassium. Who knew? The greens can be tossed into a salad, blanched or steamed like spinach and eaten as a vegetable, the root can be dried (or roasted) and ground up to make tea (which can taste very similar to coffee) and the flowers can be used to make a lovely wine. When picking dandelion leaves for a salad, be sure to use only young leaves, older leaves can become bitter.
Planetary Ruler: Jupiter
Elemental Ruler: Air
Magical Properties: Divination, Wishes, Calling Spirits
According to Scott Cunningham you can use the dandelion to send a message to a loved one. To do this you visualize your message and blow the dandelion head that has gone to seed in the direction of the person to whom you want to send you message.
He also writes of some other fun things to do with a dandelion head that has gone to seed:
To see how long you will live, blow the seeds of a dandelion, the number of seeds left on the seed head indicates how many years you will live and to tell the time, blow three times on the seed head, the number of seeds left is the hour.
According to the Real Witch’s Garden by Kate West, tea made with dandelion root is used to aid the liver, kidneys and bowels as well as to cleanse the system.
Karen Harrison of The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook wrote that the magical uses for dandelion root tea are to bring psychic impressions and dreams and she also states that adding Dandelion to an herbal amulet brings abundance in “Financial Acumen” and opportunity.
Here is an easy recipes for turning the humble dandelion into wine:
This recipe is from Allrecipes.com
Makes 4 quarts
1 quart yellow dandelion blossoms, well rinsed
1 gallon boiling water
¼ ounce package active dry yeast
8 cups white sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon slice
1. Place dandelion blossoms in the boiling water, and allow to stand for 4 minutes. Remove and discard the blossoms, and let the water cool to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C).
2. Stir in the yeast, sugar, orange slices, and lemon slice; pour into a plastic fermenter, and attach a fermentation lock. Let the wine ferment in a cool area until the bubbles stop, 10 to 14 days. Siphon the wine off of the lees, and strain through cheesecloth before bottling in quart-sized, sterilized canning jars with lids and rings. Age the wine at least a week for best flavor.
Notes: Be sure that you use only pesticide free dandelions and that you wash them well before you put them in the pot.
I found a couple of great sites which had detailed directions for harvesting and roasting the dandelion roots. The links are below.
The Herbal Alchemist’s handbook by Karen Harrison
The Real Witch’s Garden by Kate West
Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham